Jack of Many Trades

Old Paths, New Footsteps in the Earth

Originally posted: 2015-08-25

Things have been interesting in my head lately. One of the things I'd been circling around for months now is the question of how to relate to Mara in a purely fictional recon context. I've spent years researching, syncretising, justifying and generally legitimizing my relationship with her by drawing proper-looking dotted lines from one idea to another. I took the first tentative steps last year in seeing the other gods in their own light, but I thought to myself, I know Mara. I don't need to stress about Mara.

Stress brought me back around, though. Last winter, in a bout of compulsive decluttering, I finally admitted that Mara's altar wasn't working for me anymore. It was set up under the same principles it had always held, but it no longer made me feel her presence when I looked at it. I played with it intermittently for days trying to figure out what was wrong. I ended up stripping away almost all of the decor on the altar. When it clicked, my understanding shifted... and it shifted away from the historical Mara.

Committing to fictional recon means committing to seeing the gods and powers as they exist in the fictional universe as fully legitimate, regardless their existence in extant lore. I have spent so much time trying to find the historic Mara that I've come close to losing track of my own experience of the goddess I work with.

The problem was that I didn't listen. I didn't think. I didn't write. So it took me ages to work through seeing Mara as a goddess with different forms and faces and names and epithets, and then as summer came around I completely dismantled my altar because the baby was climbing up the bookshelf I had it on. I asked Mara to tell me what she wanted and I ended up with an altar that was unlike anything I'd given her before. Small shelves on the wall, centered around a figurine I'd picked up for Mara at the thrift store more than a year before, feel relevant and present. They recall the large, sprawling altars I used to keep years ago, without taking up a wall's worth of furniture. They feel right, for now.

While I started this 30 Days of Devotion-type exercise purely as an offering to Mara, it has also turned out to be a gift to myself. I have learned a great deal about Mara, her worship, and the other spirits she is associated with. Spirits like Bluebird and Vala have been in the corners of my awareness for years without me knowing what I should do with them. (Bluebird has been in my life since I was in high school; it's about time I figured out how to work with her.)

I have some non-fictional thoughts I'm probably going to post about over the next couple of days, and I certainly plan to continue writing, but honestly writing something from dictation every day has been exhausting even though some of them were very lightly dictated.